Meerscheidt v. State

In Meerscheidt v. State, 931 P.2d 220 (Wyo. 1997), the defendants had entered into plea agreements which included paying restitution to the victims. On appeal, the defendants raised four challenges to the restitution order of the trial court. Two dealt with factual issues relating to the amount of damages. The first concerned the amount of restitution awarded for damages to one of the victims' dining room table. 931 P.2d at 224-226. The Court concluded that the defendants had waived their rights to challenge the amount of damages to the table by agreeing to pay pursuant to their plea agreements and by failing to object to the amount. 931 P.2d at 226. The Court went on to note that the amount was, in any event, supported by the facts in the record. Id. The second factual issue dealt with moving expenses the victims would incur for moving from Cheyenne because of the defendants' attacks on their families. 931 P.2d at 227. That part of the order was reversed because the trial court had failed to specify a certain amount, as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 7-9-103(a), and the matter was remanded for a determination of a certain amount, if any, which should be awarded. Id. The other two challenges mounted by the defendants in Meerscheidt related to the authority of the trial court to order certain aspects of the restitution under the statutes. Despite the existence of the plea agreements and the failure to object by the defendants, we proceeded to analyze these issues under a de novo statutory language review. The first issue concerned an award of $ 24,000.00 to the victims for loss of enjoyment of life. 931 P.2d at 223-224. We concluded that under the definition of "pecuniary damages" the trial court erred in making an award for restitution for loss of enjoyment of life and vacated that aspect of the order. Id. The second issue concerned whether certain insurance companies were victims under the restitution statute. 931 P.2d at 226-227. After noting that insurance companies can be victims under the statute if the insurer has no right of subrogation, we reversed and remanded the trial court's order that the insurance companies be awarded restitution because there was no evidence in the record regarding their subrogation rights, and, hence, the entire restitution amount should go to the victims of the crime. Id.